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Fiddler’s Picnic thrives in its fourth decade

Fiddler’s Picnic Johnson County Fairgrounds — Sunday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. This coming Sunday, Sept. 24, at noon at the Iowa City 4H Fairgrounds, the Old Fiddler’s Picnic continues its four-decade tradition of celebrating folk music. The Friends of Old Time Music’s annual Fiddler’s Picnic is a casual, homemade event. So much so that […]

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Album Review: Rust Belt Union — Impromptu Musicals for the Skeptic

Trust a joker like Matthew James to open Impromptu Musicals For the Skeptic, his album with the Rust Belt Union, with a song titled “Goodbye.” Like Groucho Marx’s song “Hello, I Must Be Going,” it’s ironic but shows a restlessness mirrored in the lyrics: “But it’s just like before I’m always heading out a door and I never quite get where I’m supposed to go.” […]

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Album Review: Keith Reins and Tara McGovern — Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.
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Iowa City band Aseethe is taking its minimalist metal sound back on tour

Aseethe, the Iowa City band made up of Brian Barr and Eric Dierks, has been kicking around the Midwest heavy music scene for a few years now, with an evolving sound based around Barr’s exploration of the raw sound of guitar, synth and samples. Having caught the ear of Thrill Jockey owner Bettina Richards, they went from selling her a T-shirt, to Thrill Jockey distributing their 2015 EP ‘Nothing Left Nothing Gained,’ to releasing their current record, ‘Hopes of Failure,’ on the label. […]

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Album Review: The Fuss — The Fuss

The Fuss — a Des Moines-based rock band who have released a couple of EPs in recent years — make the kind of catchy pop rock music that reminds one of Tommy Tutone or The Replacements. Their self-titled debut album, which includes four tracks from an earlier EP, drops July 1. […]

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‘Quite a little fight’ — the Harris family’s move to Bever Avenue was an early step forward in Cedar Rapids integration

At Percy Harris’ Memorial Service on Jan.30 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Ted Townsend, the president of St. Luke’s Hospital, began his eulogy for Dr. Harris by saying that before he met him, he’d heard so many good things about him that he was surprised to find out he was still alive. It was a funny line and on the edge of inappropriate for a memorial, but would have tickled Harris’ famous sense of humor. It would be difficult to find someone in Cedar Rapids who has a bad word to say about Harris. He devoted his life to serving Cedar Rapids, becoming its first black physician in 1957. He later served as the Linn County Medical Examiner, President of Medical Staff at St. Luke’s and for two terms as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents.

One of the most famous incidents of Harris’ life was the controversy that surrounded the 1961 decision of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church — where he was, according to fellow parishioner Carolyn Wellso, the only African American member — to sell him a lot on which to build his home. Robert Armstrong, owner of Armstrong’s Department Store, had donated land adjacent to his Bever Avenue home to the church as a contribution to its building fund; he proposed to the board that they sell a lot to Harris. […]

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Album Review: Bridget Kearney — Won’t Let You Down

Bridget Kearney Won’t Let You Down bridgetkearney.bandcamp.com MCF: Bridget Kearney with Elizabeth Moen, Paul Cary The Mill — Wednesday, April 5 at 10 p.m., $12-15 Won't Let You Down by Bridget Kearney The title song that starts the album, the obvious “single” (if that even means anything), is a sunny, upbeat number layered with unsettling […]

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